Let's call it the Tesla effect. The innovative automaker and its Model S have owned what is a niche market for luxury EVs.
The German automaker's new electric i3 city car certainly isn't competition for the sleek Model S in design; for that, BMW will rely on its forthcoming i8. The i3 is more utilitarian in appearance, yet still conveys a futuristic vibe with its opposing doors and blue LED-colored accents. Under the skin, the four-seater hatchback's passenger compartment is made of carbon fiber. Inside, the car makes generous use of sustainable and recycled materials. The cabin has no center tunnel to take up floor space and even has bench seats.
Rusty Russell of Bert Smith BMW in St. Petersburg says the dealership's lone i3 induces motorists to stop and snap photos. Want one? Local BMW dealers — including Reeves in Tampa and Ferman in Palm Harbor in addition to Smith — have demo models and are taking orders.
Russell let me take the i3 for a drive recently and I was impressed with its acceleration and nimble handling both in the city and on the interstate.